LONDON - He might have only a little gas left in his tank, but Usain Bolt has no shortage of fighting talk. It was aimed at his youngest and oldest challengers on Monday, as he threw down challenges to Andre De Grasse and Justin Gatlin.
Canadian De Grasse took 100 metres bronze and 200m silver behind Bolt at the Rio Olympics last year but there is a growing sense that the 22-year-old is the best positioned to spoil the Jamaican’s farewell party at the World Championships in London in August.
That sense is perhaps felt strongest in De Grasse himself, with the sprinter having recently spelled out his desire to beat Bolt before backing up those words with a wind-assisted time of 9.69sec for the 100m in Stockholm nine days ago.
It was was by far the quickest in the world this year and Bolt, 30, appeared a little edgy in responding to a question in the Czech Republic yesterday on whether he would be able to keep up with his younger rival in London.
‘I am the fastest man in the world so I will say yes to that,’ said the eight-time Olympic champion, before claiming he has never had the ‘luck’ of De Grasse’s run in Stockholm, where he was helped by a strong 4.8m tailwind.
‘Every time I hear a wind-assisted time my friend NJ always calls me and says, “Why are we never this lucky?” We always have negative wind. The possibility (with a strong tailwind) is endless. We have always thought about it. I have never been that lucky.’
Bolt will run in the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava tomorrow as he continues his low-key preparations for London. He has run only once this year, in a ‘horrifying’ 10.03sec 100m in Jamaica earlier this month, and beyond Ostrava has so far only committed to running the Diamond League meeting in Monaco on July 21.
In London he is set to meet his old rival Gatlin after the 35-year-old won the US trials last week.
Bolt said: ‘I was actually shocked he won the trials. I knew he would make top three but the young boys are fast. As an older athlete in the sport we have a lot of experience and we know how to go through the rounds. But I was shocked he came out victorious. It just shows he is a competitor. He shows year after year he is not to be taken lightly. I am looking forward to that competition always.’